Women and Caucuses

The other day, Rox noted that Obama shines in caucuses more than primaries and wondered: "What is it about the difference between the two that gives Obama the edge in caucuses and Clinton the advantage in the primaries?"

Maybe this has something to do with it:
In my Seattle caucus today, overwhelmingly for Obama, us Hillary supporters were older, and less aggressive than the Obama supporters. … Intimidation is a factor in caucuses. It's something the democratic party has to deal with which is why I want the democratic party to do away with them completely. The last thing democrats need when trying to build party unity is one half winning votes by scaring the other half.
Someone has also emailed me private accounts of older female Hillary supporters who reported being intimidated, shouted down, and outright bullied by younger male Obama supporters while caucusing. (Shades of the virtual world, in which female Hillary supporters have been effectively run out of dKos.) There were also reports of male McCain supporters who showed up claiming the specific purpose of intimidating female Hillary supporters.

(And why not? When everyone's free to take shots at Hillary without serious consequence, it doesn't exactly send the message that anyone will care if her supporters are treated as fair game for sexist bullying, too.)

Put this in the context of the series of posts Kate and I have written recently (e.g. Damned if You Do, Stealth Vote Salon, and I Am Not Ashamed), along with the associated comments threads and women bloggers who have linked approvingly to those posts, all of which speak to the very real, if near-totally ignored, phenomenon of women who are hesitant for various reasons to openly support Hillary, and the reality of caucuses requiring public support that the privacy of a voting booth does not—and only someone deeply engaged in willful ignorance could deny that sexism is playing some role in Obama's caucus wins.

And that doesn't even take into consideration the structural problem of caucuses requiring more time and offering less flexibility. With women still the primary caregivers (of child care and elder care) in the vast majority of American homes, caucuses favor the young, and disfavor older women with familial responsibilities, who comprise a large portion of Hillary's base of supporters.

In Jeff's post below, he says: "The difference between losing 70-30 and 60-40 is significant." Indeed. And the two states in which Hillary lost by the larger margin were the caucus states.

This is the untold story of this primary (which ought to concern democracy-loving people irrespective of the candidate they support), though I've no doubt that the mainstream media—and these guys—will continue to find justifications for dutifully ignoring it.

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